December 2008

December 30, 2008

Greetings from sunny LA. Every time I descend to the 213, I am reminded of how much I j’adore 71 degrees in December. I am so gonna be one of those Palm Beach ladies when I am 80, I know it. At least I’ll match my leather bag. I also managed to catch a stupid cold yesterday, argh, but at least I have my pick of pho houses and nose-clearing spicy salsas down here.

Hey, do you have your New Year’s Eve all lined up? Will it be a super burrito from El Farolito, or perhaps you kept all your money in your mattress this year so you’re up for something spiffier? If it’s the latter, here’s a mini recap I did a few weeks ago on some New Year’s Eve dinners in case you need idears.

Since I am all about shopping for vintage clothes and scouting ethnic eats in the City of Angels this week, I am making this one a special seasonal short issue. We all know what a boozy week this is, yup, champers galore, so I have not one but two wino pieces for you: the first wino is from Jerry Cooper, with an overview of some spirits to look for at your liquor store or hooch parlor, and the second is a highlight of what local wine directors and sommeliers are anticipating we’ll be seeing more of in 2009.

And yes, as is the tablehopper’s annual New Year’s tradition, the bore returns, full of ten items I don’t want to see much of anymore in this coming year—yeah, it’s a bit snarky.

I’ll be back next week, guns blazing with all kinds of news, events, and reviews.

Happy New Year, people! I am wishing you all health, happiness, low cholesterol, high times (feel free to interpret that in any way you like), and may we all look and feel mighty fine in ’09.

Cheers my dears!
~ Marcia

December 23, 2008

Hey gang, you ready for your week of holiday hootenanny-time?! And yes, I have got to get these Christmas carols off repeat in my head. Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and Buon Natale, and Merry Everything! My week features a triple play, starting with my dad’s birthday this Tuesday night, our family’s Feast of However Many Fishes We Want To Prepare on Christmas Eve, and then a lovely Christmas Day with my grandma (I can’t wait for our annual breakfast of my Mom’s Christmas bread, my dad’s killer homemade sausage, and fried eggs, oh yeah!). Family feasts and gatherings like mine make me count my blessings—especially since we don’t have any bad cooks, ha ha!

I enjoyed reading this Boston Globe article forwarded to me about an East Coast Feast of the Seven Fishes, and check out my friend Maroun’s Lebanese Christmas Eve spread (recipes included). I love me some international overeating.

The chilly and wet weather provided the perfect timing for this week’s issue of the wino from Jessica Boyd on hot sake. And we also have a hardhat for you. Be sure to check the socialite for info about the cooking demo I am hosting in January for the Dine About Town kick-off event at the Macy’s Cellar. I was all fired up to write a review of a ramen place for you, but I have too many presents to wrap! Sorry, presents trump “the regular” this week. ’Tis the season.

Oh, I almost forgot: I’ll be in Los Angeles celebrating the New Year at my friend’s sweet pad in the Hollywood Hills, awwwww yeah, and am looking forward to checking out more of the ethnic places that remain on my list from my last visit. Since I will be traveling, next week’s issue is going to be pretty light. (Unlike me, oh well.)

It wouldn’t be the holidays without some giveaway action, would it? That’s right, and this one is a boozy one! I’m actually giving away two books to each winner: one is Wings of Cherubs by Guillermo Toro-Lira, a book about his intensive and historical quest to discover San Francisco’s secret and original Pisco Punch recipe (the one you can drink at Pisco). The second book is The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale Degroff, features 100 “essential” recipes, from the Bee’s Knees to a Gin Fizz, with great quotes, instructions, and yay, pictures.

But here’s where I could really use your help! All I want for Christmas is more subscribers! (I already asked Santa, we’ll see what turns up.) So if you are going to enter to win this giveaway, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to a minimum of three buddies, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friends why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, I wish I was kidding!), and CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight on Friday January 2nd since I know many of you are traveling. I’ll notify the three winners soon thereafter! Yee haw! Oh wait, Ho Ho Ho!

Okay dear readers, here’s wishing you safe travels, tasty eats, inspired drinks, and the happiest of holidays with your family and friends.

Happy Merry!
~ Marcia

December 16, 2008

Wow, thanks to everyone who showed up for the Chocolate Adventure Contest party I hosted last Tuesday at Rosewood! The Sagatiba was flowin’, the Scharffen Berger Chocolate was gettin’ grated, the mole sliders from El Huarache Loco and sweets from Kika’s Treats got munched, and I have some winners to announce from the evening’s cooking and cocktail contest! Read all about it below in the chatterbox.

Last Friday was definitely the dream getaway—I got to visit the idyllic Meadowood for the sold-out Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina dinner (pinch pinch!). Lotsa Mozza deliciousness. I loved the contrast of their rustic dishes to the elegant atmosphere of the dining room—and there were some good pairings with Kelly Fleming Wines, especially the garganelli with boar ragu and the ’04 cabernet. The Food Network put together a video segment on the dinner, check out the menu and more here. The next day, my friend and I took a nice hour-long hike around the property (with some water bottle stations along the way, how grand), and then when we were checking out, who walks in but one of my favorite chefs in the U.S., Koren Grieveson (Avec)! Cool. (She was. And nice, too.)

There are more Twelve Days of Christmas dinners remaining—could be a nice surprise holiday gift?! And it benefits Share Our Strength, so if you’re stumped on what to give a favorite gourmand in your life, there’s an idea for ya…

In fact, I have a few more holiday gift-giving ideas below in the chatterbox. And thanks to everyone who supported the tablehopper holiday advertisers last week! I hope you found some inspiration for good gifting—and today’s advertisers are no exception!

Brrrrrrr, it’s chilly. I was in charge of making hot chocolate spiked with Baileys drinks at my friends’ annual holiday get together this weekend, and since I’m on the hot holiday dranks tip, take a peek at H from Elixir’s wino piece on making a killer Irish coffee—I’d say it’s as good a time as any to whip one up! As for the party, we had quite the spread, courtesy of DeLessio Market catering. What’s not to love about polenta bites, overflowing platters of Boccalone salumi and cheese, shrimp cakes, salmon canapés, and mini cupcakes?! And lots of bubbles, naturally. Yup, we feasted. My talented buddy Darwin snapped some pics of the festivities.

This week’s issue is chock full of things to eat and drink—have at it.



December 9, 2008

Hello readers (and partners in crime)! It feels like this past weekend was the official holiday party season kick-off, no? I was in full tablehopper mode, to be expected. And this chilly weather has put me into much more of a holiday mood. Break out the coats and gloves and bourbon!

Since we are in holiday mode over here at tablehopper HQ, I wanted to let you know this Wednesday and Friday you will be receiving two special sponsored holiday emails in your inbox, one on entertaining, and one on gifts. Generous sponsors like the ones that will be featured (and the one in this issue!) are what keep tablehopper going, and since almost all of them are locally based, you can help keep these businesses going strong as well! So please take a peek, click, and buy local, yo! Grazie from all of us.

Now it’s time to give a little something to you! This week is my monthly Chronicle Books giveaway: this time we are featuring The Tagine Deck: 25 Recipes for Slow-Cooked Meals by one of my culinary idols, Joyce Goldstein. The odds for this drawing are good because there will be three winners (you also get a Chronicle tote bag). To enter to win, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to one buddy (or more, you star!!), telling them why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, no joke), and CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday December 14th. I’ll notify the three winners soon thereafter!

Want to read more? Thanks to Pete at Green Apple Books, we have a bookworm this week, full of holiday book ideas for everyone on your list. His bookstore is another lovely local biz to support! Swing by, get some cookbooks and fiction and art books for your friends, and then go grab a bag of wicked cheap baked pork buns across the street at Wing Lee Bakery as your prize, yum.

As many of you know, I have a big party to host tonight at Rosewood! So I gotta keep this week’s issue short—no time for a review. Many apologies to all of you who I couldn’t get on the guest list! Dang, that thing filled up fast. To repeat, the list is FULL. But I promise you, there will be other parties soon. Thank you for all of your support and interest and nice notes—I hope to host you in ’09! And those of you who did make it onto the guest list, it’s a hot ticket, so no flaking! I look forward to seeing y’all tonight!

Check out tonight’s competing teams o’ talent: Duggan McDonnell (Cantina) and Lauren Kiino (Coi); H. Ehrmann (Elixir) and Scott Youkilis (Maverick); Scott Baird (15 Romolo) and Justin Simoneaux (Moss Room); Jen Ackrill (Rye) and Jane Tseng (A16); and Aurora Siegel and Alicia Bidnic (both Rose Pistola). I will be doing a recap next week of who won what (best drink, best bite, best pairing).

Oh, and if you’d like to see what else I’ve been up to lately, click over to the buzz page for a few bits of press and videos, like a wine-hop I did with The Tasting Panel magazine, and you can listen to a snippet of my segment on Oprah & Friends (scroll down to appearances)! I also have written some non-tablehopper articles, posted on the who is the tablehopper page, including a link to a story I wrote on SF chefs who use the whole animal for a recent Meatpaper issue, plus some chef interviews in Edible San Francisco.

Have a swell week. Ta!


December 2, 2008

I hope your Thanksgiving-induced indigestion has subsided, or at least you’re ready for additional bodily harm, because you have a lot of eating and drinking to do this month. Uh huh, yes you do. My inbox is flooding with all kinds of events and special menus to get your physique into a dumpling-like shape right quick! I even wrote up a hearty Russian place for this week’s review. Apologies in advance—see ya on the treadmill.

My own dining and drinking docket this week includes dinner with Eddie for another “Dining With Eddie” excursion, dinner at the Café Majestic to check out what chef Louis Maldonado is up to, the champers tasting at Arlequin on Thursday (read all about it in the socialite), and a total pile-up of events on Friday, including the pork tasting I mentioned last week, Repeal Day boozing (see the wino this week for a piece by Duggan “Shotzi” McDonnell), and then a cool wine tasting (listed below) on Saturday! Lots of salads and water and bike riding in between it all.

Okay, let’s party. First, I’m doing a giveaway to a Golden Gate Wine Cellars holiday wine tasting this Saturday December 6th from 4pm–7pm. All the details about this unique tasting are below in the lush—three lucky tablehopper readers can win three pairs of tickets. To enter to win, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (or more, you rock star!!), telling them why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (don’t call it a blog or you won’t be entered in the contest, no joke), and CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight on Wednesday December 3nd. I know—it’s a fast one! I’ll notify the three winners on Thursday by noon. If you don’t hear from me by Thursday afternoon, then it means you didn’t win (sorry Charlie)—so if you were fired up to go to the event, you should buy tickets and go!

And then here’s something that won’t cost you a dime (well, except nice tips for your trusty bartenders): next Tuesday December 9th I am hosting the Scharffen Berger and chocolate and Sagatiba cachaça cocktail-and-food competition at Rosewood in North Beach from 6pm–8pm. There are going to be five teams of chefs and bartenders competing, with complimentary Sagatiba cachaça cocktails, mole sliders, and sweet treats for guests.

Wanna come? Of course you do! And yes, darling, the entire event is free! To get on the guest list, please email me your first and last name at luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com, and if you have any guests coming with you (+1? +2? Fine. +7, however, is not cool.) Be sure to say “Party RSVP” in the subject line, thanks! Space on the list is limited, first come, first served, so please don’t RSVP unless you think you can make it. You can read more below in the chatterbox for additional details about the party.

Keep toasty, and on this Friday’s Repeal Day, toasting and toasted!

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